Travel Therapy: 7 Ways Travel Makes You Happy

Last updated February 12, 2024

Most of us will have likely heard of music therapy and/or art therapy. But what about travel therapy? Recent cross-disciplinary research links going on vacation with positive health benefits—both physical and mental. For me, this especially rings true. Travel is my therapy.

I was coming up on an ex-anniversary from a pending divorce. Living in Miami at the time, I looked at the calendar. No way I wanted to be home by my newly single self feeling the pulls of the past creeping in.

So, what did I do? I booked a flight to Mexico, back to the area where I had the actual wedding in Riviera Maya, a magical place in Quintana Roo that holds magical energy. 

Some may say crazy, but I prefer to talk through the fire to feel it all and come out stronger. Plus, it’s Tulum, and there’s no way I’d let any life lesson ruin my love for that destination.

Travel Does Count as Therapy

That trip turned out to be one of the most therapeutic journeys I’ve had in my years of traveling. I even ended up filming and producing an award-winning short film out of it.

While it’s also no news that it’s far more fun to chill on a beach and travel than to be in an office cubicle, from personal experience, here are my top seven reasons I consider travel as a form of therapy and how it can make you happy.

1. Teaches Patience

Be it a flight delay in JFK, a French dialect we know nothing about, no toilet paper in a Mexican rest stop or a town off the coast of Nicaragua that moves at a slower pace than we’re used to in Los Angeles—travel offers us the grand opportunity to deep breathe, expand our patience as we navigate through the great world of unknown.

2. Offers a Sense of Freedom

Like a bird in the sky, the thought alone of venturing to a new land automatically gives me a feeling of freedom. To be able to move, at your own will, get up and just go, it’s liberating to literally unstuck yourself from your home and typical surroundings. What lies around a new corner? A fresh airport? New restaurants and local foods to sample and share?

3. You Learn About Your Self

This is particularly true if it’s a solo travel adventure, where you have you, yourself, and your alone to ponder in your noodle for endless hours on end. When you’re faced with figuring out new environments, routines and experiences, how you react and respond will be one of the greatest lessons of self reflection and thought. 

One of my favorite things to do when traveling and in coaching therapy is journaling. When I travel, in particular, I make it a point to do daily written notes and scribbles in a notebook as well as video journaling. Video journaling or voice notes on my phone offer me the opportunity to capture a moment without it having to be for any specific purpose of an Instagram or social media channel; rather, as something to reflect back on that’s just for me to hear and see. 

4. It Lasts a Lifetime

Experiences over things is one of my mantra’s in the Live Free Manifesto, and with right cause. Because at the end of the life journey, I won’t remember the size of my wardrobe or how much crypto I have saved in the digital wallet; it will be the memories that were created and shared along the life adventure. Think back to the last five, ten or even 15 years of your life; what is it you recall more of? Bet it was a memory from a person, place or experience. 

5. Opens New Creative Channels

Routine is good for habits, but can be a killer for creativity. Knowing this fuels me to get out of the flow, sometimes traveling for the main purpose of opening new creative ideas, projects and thought. One of the main reasons I travel is for work, but also the creative element that fills my cup from travel. The locations offer fresh art, colors, smells, sounds, foods, flavors and experiences to reflect on. 

As an artist, actor and writer, that’s FUEL for my tank, as it opens the mind in new wave paths that the typical Los Angeles or Miami day to day home office does not. Plus, it can allow me mind space to focus on one project alone, rather than multitask the day. This is exactly how I approached writing my first book, Living Cancer Free, taking off a full week to write the main body of the copy in the Riviera Maya, which was therapy in itself to heal and share with readers. 

6. Develops Personal Growth

One of the reasons I love yoga is the practice of breathing and becoming comfortable with the uncomfortable. I’m flexible, but the idea of being bound in any reverse triangle pose and holding my balance and breathe can leave me in a tumble. Why? It’s uncomfortable, but I learn to laugh when I fall and breathe to create space where I can. 

Travel offers similar lessons, where you learn to adjust and adapt quickly to your new surroundings. Speaking from experience and honesty, in today’s changing markets, economies, jobs and lifestyles, adaptation is the key to any success in one’s long-term life and career. Travel tax write-off and personal development sounds like a win-win to me! 

7. You Get to Take a Break

Let’s face it, even the most driven entrepreneurial soul needs a pause from the grind. In fact, it’s been proven that taking some time out of the work flow can increase productivity by resetting the mind to take on a battery-charged perspective. When was the last time you took off an afternoon, weekend or even a full week from emails, social media, work projects, boss replies or conference calls?

No judgment here: I’m personally still working on taking off a full weekend, let alone a full week. However, this can be an opportunity to find a balance of a morning of work and an afternoon of travel off-site exploration for some personal TLC, happiness and travel therapy. 

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